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Jaz Rignall Interview

CVG, ZZAP and Mean Machines man looks back

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System 3 had arranged to have a special effects company create a model Dragon based on a monster in the game that we were going to photograph and put on the cover, and then give away in a competition. System 3 told me that this thing was going to be absolutely awesome... but when it arrived is was shiiiiiiiiiit. It was sooo bad - it looked like a really crap paper mache model of a retarded Puff the Magic dragon made by a bunch of spectacularly ungifted three year olds.

So we had to scrap that cover entirely and stick something else on it instead. Shame, really, as the game was pretty good. I think one of our best covers was one we did with the Joker on the front (the Jack Nicklaus character from the first Batman movie).

That was pretty good, although if truth be told, CVG covers were never my favorite. We always had way too many headlines and stupid freebies and whatnot, plus they had crazy late 80's primary colour styling so they all tended to look like an explosion in a crayon factory.

What was better: C64 or Spectrum 48k? Amstrad didn't count, right?

My personal favorite was the C64, just because I liked more C64 games than Spectrum ones. The colours were better, the sounds were supa skillin' and there was just a bit more horsepower under the hood.

Sure, there were some absolutely great Spectrum games that I still remember very fondly, but pound-for-pound the C64 was the one to have, if only to play games like Impossible Mission, Boulderdash and Dropzone...

And yes, the poor ol' Amstrad was sadness personified.

Do people still call you Jaz?

Yes, close friends, and people who used to read the magazine.

Here are the best reader Qs er received

Back in the day Rob Hubbard and Martin Galway's music tracks a mind blowing part of gaming experience. Do you feel that game music today is as inspirational or do you think that as technology has advanced artists do not need to be so creative? - deanoz2

Back then you had to write your own player, program the SID chip to create voices, and then use those voices to make a tune (and do it all in a small amount of memory) - so you had to be both technically and artistically creative.

These days it's just about the artistry, because there are virtually no limits - you can use whatever instruments you want, or even vocals, and it's essentially all just recorded.

It's just about making a good piece of music, rather than figuring out how to push a tiny little 8-bit chip to new heights. What was different back then is that these people were pioneers and were doing something nobody had done before - and that made it very cool and exciting.

Did you (or do you) have a favourite piece of C64 music and do you ever check out the many fan-made remixes out there? - funkymonkey18

Crunchy 8-bit sounds are now a part of the musical landscape, and it's funny hearing some of the old stuff being recycled again since there's a new generation of people who've never really heard that stuff before.

Sure, some of it sounds a bit wobbly today, but that's part of the aural, lo-fi aesthetic. Delta, Platoon, Rambo, One Man and his Droid and Thrust are ones that spring to mind immediately as just really outstanding pieces of 8-bit music that are not only definitive sounds of their era, but have very much stood the test of time.

You have written tons of video game reviews, features, articles etc. Which one piece of writing are you most proud of? - JamieO

I think it's pretty apparent to the readers of any of the mags I've edited that we always used to have a lot of fun reviewing games, particularly the bad ones, where the team would try to out-do one another to find novel and entertaining ways of saying horrible things about some poor piece of software we took a particular umbridge to.

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